Earlier today we learned that the Milwaukee Brewers were considering a stint on the disabled list for Junior Guerra, who was limping around the clubhouse today after suffering a shin contusion during his last start. This evening after the conclusion of today’s victory over the Yankees, the Brewers did indeed decide to make a move with Guerra:
RHP Junior Guerra (right shin contusion) has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to July 8. Corresponding move TBD.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) July 9, 2017
Guerra has so far been unable to find the same level of success this year as he had as a rookie in 2016, but he also been snake bitten with some unfortunate injuries. Junior suffered a calf strain after on Opening Day after pitching just 3.0 innings, coming up lame while running out a bunt attempt. He wound up missing 7 weeks of action, and has struggled with both his velocity and command since returning in late May. In 10 starts this season, Guerra has compiled a 4.78 ERA (107 ERA-) through 49.0 innings pitched. His strikeout-to-walk rate stands at a worrisome 39:31, and he’s already coughed up 13 home runs (3 more than he had in 121.2 innings last year). After sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball last season, he’s struggled to hit 90 MPH at times during the 2017 season.
A mechanical flaw may be holding Guerra back this year, and he looked like he was taking a step in the right direction before his last start was cut short after 3.1 innings and one earned run allowed. Guerra was firing his fastball to the plate regularly at 92-93 MPH throughout his start on Friday against the Yankees, touching 94 MPH a few times. He struck out 3 batters and induced several swings-and-misses with his splitter and slider. Guerra did walk 3 batters, though his command appeared better around the edges of the zone. Ji-Man Choi also hit a homer of Guerra, who gave up two additional unearned runs during the start thanks to five errors by his defense behind him.
The final man Guerra would face was Austin Romine, who hit a liner off of Guerra’s shin with one out in the bottom of the 4th. Immediately after Romine reached base (Junior fielded the ball and threw to Jesus Aguilar, who dropped the catch and was charged with an error), the game went into a 51-minute rain delay. Josh Hader replaced Guerra after the weather cleared with an unfortunately-timed shin contusion given as the official reason by the club. It was initially hoped that the injury wasn’t too serious, but it’s clearly a bit worse than it looked at first.
Guerra’s DL stint is able to be backdated to July 8th, which means he’ll be eligible to return to action on July 18th. That would coincide with Milwaukee’s fifth game after the regular season resumes on Friday. Milwaukee already announced Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson, and Matt Garza as the starters for the series against Philadelphia next weekend, and Brent Suter has been assured he’ll get another turn in the rotation so that likely means he’ll pitch the series opener in Pittsburgh on the 17th.
Placing Guerra on the DL now will allow the Brewers to carry a 9-man bullpen for their first few days after the All-Star break before activating Guerra (or calling up another starting pitcher if for some reason Guerra isn’t ready). With a four-day layoff coming, it’s likely that the club will wait until Friday to decide who to add to the active roster to take up the spot vacated by Junior.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs